The number of building permits at an all-time low since 2015

Every month records a new collapse in issued building permits (authorized housing). The number of building permits in France continued to fall in March, reaching a historic low since 2015, according to preliminary data released on Tuesday by the Ministry for Ecological Transformation.

Between April 2023 and March 2024, 358,600 housing units were approved for construction, down 19.8% from the previous 12 months. New construction is in serious crisis. In detail, 129,200 permits were granted for individual houses (-22.2%), 229,300 for collective housing (-18.4%). As part of collective housing, residences (for students, seniors, etc.) are doing somewhat well, with a drop of “only” 8.8%.

Construction starts, which traditionally follow building permits, also continue to decline, with 283,200 construction starts from April 2023 to March 2024, a record low of 23.3%. However, the Ministry points out that this last figure is more questionable due to the more fragmented collection of data on the start of construction.

To lose 90,000 jobs?

Construction costs have risen significantly due to more expensive materials and stricter environmental standards. At the same time, buyers suffered from rising interest rates and cuts to public support programs for new real estate. This is starting to impact employment as several promoters have announced welfare plans while smaller players are filing for bankruptcy. The French construction federation fears 90,000 job losses by the end of 2024 and then 150,000 by mid-2025.

Hauts-de-France and Brittany fared slightly better than other regions of France, with declines of 4.8% and 8.7% respectively. The most stressed regions, Île-de-France and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, saw a significant decrease in permits issued with -26.1% and -28.8% respectively. Note that building permits fell by 23.7% in 2023 compared to 2022 with 373,100 permits issued. This is almost 116,000 fewer issued permits for the entire year.

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